The Montana Democratic party has formally endorsed legalizing marijuana as part of its platform.
At the same time that activists in the state are collecting signatures for adult-use cannabis legalization ballot initiatives, the party adopted the policy change at an online convention held on Friday.
The party said it supports the “removal of Marijuana from Schedule 1 of the Federal Controlled Substances Act,” one plank states.
Members also backed adding language to the Montana constitution to “establish the legal age for purchasing, consuming, or possessing marijuana at 21 years of age or older.”
The platform further calls more broadly for “addressing substance abuse as a public health issue, rather than a criminal issue,” among other reform policies.
The adoption of the cannabis legalization position is timely given the active work on the part of activists to qualify two measures on the issue for the November ballot.
After temporarily suspending campaign activities due to the coronavirus pandemic, New Approach Montana relaunched their signature gathering drive last month with new safety measures in place.
Pepper Petersen, political director for New Approach Montana, told Marijuana Moment that the group is “glad to see that the Montana Democratic Party finally aligned its platform with the will of its voters and members in support of this common sense measure.”
“Hopefully, we will soon see the Montana Republican Party listen to the will of its members too and add their voice to the ever growing choir of support for cannabis legalization as well,” he said.
New Approach Montana is behind two proposed ballot measures: one statutory initiative to establish a regulated cannabis market for adult use as well as a constitutional amendment stipulating that only those 21 and older can participate in the market.
Montana’s Democratic party is several years behind those of other states that have already endorsed legalization as part of their official platforms.
Party delegates in states from Wisconsin to California made similar moves in 2016—the same year that the Democratic National Convention (DNC) approved the first-ever major party platform to include a plank embracing a “reasoned pathway for future legalization” and the rescheduling of cannabis under federal law.
The Texas Republican party approved platform planks in 2018 to decriminalize cannabis, expand the state’s medical marijuana program, reschedule marijuana under federal law and push forward with hemp reform.
Read the Montana Democratic Party’s criminal justice platform below:
Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.